All about Angostura: The Best Cocktails, and Where to Get Them!

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Classic Old Fashioned Cocktail with Angostura Bitters

There’s a lot more to Angostura than making old ladies’ their pink gin, you know. Well, so I am discovering! The highly aromatic bitters in its distinctive paper-wrapped bottle comes in traditional as well as orange flavours, and was first made by Dr. Johann Siegert in the city of Angostura in Venezuela in 1824.

Bless his l’il cotton socks for that. Today, ANGOSTURA aromatic bitters and ANGOSTURA orange bitters are the world’s market leader, having become an integral ingredient in many premium cocktails, and a mainstay of cocktail culture.
And who doesn’t love a good cocktail, mmm?
According to the press release, “Angostura’s international range of rums, produced at the only rum distillery in Trinidad, includes five distinctive, exquisitely blended rums: Angostura 1824, Angostura 1919, Angostura 7-Year-Old, Angostura 5-Year-Old and Angostura Reserva, blended by masters with years of experience and training in original traditions using closely guarded formulas and techniques. The newest product in the portfolio, the multiple award-winning Amaro di ANGOSTURA, leverages our unsurpassed heritage as a blender of the finest bitters and rums.”

Well, who’d have known? Now I certainly know what to look out for next time I hit a bar!

Angostura is making a roaring comeback in cocktails and even food everywhere, with recipes galore.

South Africa’s winter landscape is a varied one and because of this, more often than not, your taste for cocktails will change seasonally depending on where you live. For instance, whilst Durban experiences mild winters, Cape Town is cool and wet, and Johannesburg is largely cold and dry.

Sure, every cocktail bar offers a range of classic cocktails to suit any season and that everyone will recognise, but they also make up exclusive creations consisting of unusual homegrown mixers, locally produced liqueurs and in some cases even bitters with a South African twist.

Raymond Endean, owner of Cape Towns famed Orphanage Cocktail Emporium says they offer the usual classics such as the Negroni or Old Fashioned, but they also make cocktails with a bit more creative flair such as their signature cocktail, “More Tea Vicar”. It is served in a tea cup, comprised of vanilla-infused vodka, rooibos syrup, lemon juice, cranberry juice and cellulose solution, and comes with a block of lemon rooibos jelly on the side.

So, what is the most popular cocktail ordered by Orphanage customers when it’s cold out? Endean says; “The Crematorium. This is served in a half jack bottle wrapped in brown paper and is a hot cocktail. It comprises of tequila, lime juice, vanilla rooibos syrup, orange peel and ginger. It is set on fire before serving hot in the half jack bottle. It is a play on the original “Blue Blazer” cocktail invented by professor Jerry Thomas. Our guests love the heat as well as the theatre around the drink.”

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Orphanage Bar, Cape Town

In Durban, owner of the popular Lucky Shaker bar in Umhlanga, Michael Stephenson, says the most prevalent year-round classic cocktails on their menu tend to be the Whisky Sour, Old Fashioned and Margarita but they also serve up their own inventions like the aptly named “Winter Punch”, a clarified milk punch that is a combination of dark rum, bourbon, apple, grapefruit, demerara sugar, Angostura Bitters and chai tea with a host of winter spices like cardamom, cinnamon and star anise. They add milk to the punch – which curdles due to the acidity of the citrus juices – but once they filter it they are able to separate the curd from the whey. The “Winter Punch” ends up being nice and clear but still retains the smooth and silky texture of a creamy drink. When asked what the most popular winter cocktail at Lucky Shaker is, Stephenson says: “Our winters in Durban are pretty mild so guests still order the usual refreshing drinks but there is a definite increase in stirred drinks like our “Fireside”, which is made with brandy, toasted marshmallows, a hint of sherry and smoky Scotch.”

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Angostura cocktails served at Lucky Shaker Bar, Umhlanga, Durban

In Joburg, Julian Short, owner of the well-loved cocktail bar, Sin + Tax says their best seller overall is an original called The Main Squeeze, but they also offer unusual cocktails like a bubbly take on the famous Bloody Mary cocktail in which they’ve used roasted tomato, sundried tomato, fresh watermelon, gin and soy sauce. Short says: “Our bestseller every winter is the classic Old Fashioned. It’s an unquestionably tasty cocktail and perfect for the cold weather.”

So, whether you’re going classic or creative around the country this winter it seems there is no one cocktail that fits all or every seasonal solution. To each his own.

PS: If you feel like trying your own hand at mixing up some killer Angostura-based cocktails, check this out: Angostura-based cocktails.

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Angostura cocktails served at Sin +Tax Bar, Johannesburg

In general, the classic Old Fashioned remains a firm SA favourite.

Any cocktail bar worth their salt uses Angostura Aromatic and Orange Bitters in their classics as they add great depth and spice to drinks, especially those made with aged spirits.

The Old Fashioned is a simple classic cocktail to make and certainly wouldn’t be the same without it – try it for yourself:

  • 60ml Bourbon
  • 1½ teaspoons Demerara syrup (one-part Demerara sugar dissolved in one-part hot water)
  • Splash of water
  • 2 dashes Angostura Aromatic Bitters
  • 1 dash Angostura Orange Bitters

Build in a lowball glass, stir with ice to incorporate ingredients. Garnish with a long orange peel.

For more information on the Angostura bitters range visit

For more information on the official House of Angostura Cocktail app with over eighty tried and tested cocktail recipes, featured drink trends and bartending tips visit – available for iPhone from the Apple App Store and for Android devices from the Google Play Store.

Follow Angostura South Africa on Facebook /Angostura South Africa and Instagram @AngosturaZA for fun facts, recipes and brand updates.


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Celebrating life with food, wine, friends & happiness! Writer, cook and blogger. Author of four cookbooks. Passionately South African, proudly Capetonian.